Thursday, February 29, 2024

Press Release: With Bill C-62 Passed, Inclusion Canada Calls For Further Change To Medical Assistance In Dying Law

For Immediate Release (Link to the Press Release)

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Inclusion Canada, the national organization of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families, is calling for further change to Canada’s medical assistance in dying (MAiD) law now that Bill C-62 has passed.

Bill C-62 was passed by the Senate on February 29th, and will soon receive Royal Assent. Through this bill, the federal government has delayed the legalization of medical assistance in dying on the basis of mental illness as a sole medical condition by three years – until 2027. If Bill C-62 hadn’t been passed beforehand, MAiD for mental illness would have automatically become legal on March 17th, 2024 due to a “sunset clause” in the existing legislation.

Krista Carr
We’re relieved that MAiD for mental illness has been delayed, but more sweeping changes to our MAiD legislation are needed,” said Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President of Inclusion Canada, “A repeal of the sunset clause and a repeal of track two in its entirety is urgently required.”

Canada’s current MAiD law – which offers assisted suicide to people with a disability whose death is not reasonably foreseeable under “track two”- reinforces the deeply-embedded ableist belief that life with a disability is a life worse than death. Carr maintains that it is “incredibly harmful.”

In 2019, then Justice Minister David Lametti chose not to appeal a lower court decision which called for MAiD to be made available to persons with disabilities whose deaths are not reasonably foreseeable. He did so despite pleas from people with disabilities, disability organizations of persons with disabilities, and warnings from the United Nations.

Representatives of the United Nations have indicated that the existing law is discriminatory.

Health Canada has reported 682 MAiD deaths where the person did not have a reasonably foreseeable death, more than one death a day in the first 21.5 months following the 2021 changes to eligibility criteria.

“Families of people with disabilities, like mine, are terrified by track two MAiD and its potential further expansion,” said Moira Wilson, President of Inclusion Canada, “We want our children to be fully valued as equal citizens, supported to live good lives and be fully included in the community, not offered state-assisted suicide on the basis of ‘suffering’ that is not inherent in their disability, but rather is a result of lack of income and disability support.” 

Wilson continued “When people with a disability reach the point of considering MAiD, they’re experiencing a crisis created by a society that excludes them – it’s that simple. Inclusion Canada understands this to be true; it’s time for our elected officials to connect the dots as well.”

Inclusion Canada would like to see elected officials bring Canada’s MAiD law back into alignment with disability rights by repealing track two, and for the government to make significant investments in community-based disability support and mental health care. The organization urges the government to defend these proposed changes in court.

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Marc Muschler, Senior Communications Officer
416-661-9611 ext. 232

About Inclusion Canada

Inclusion Canada is a nationwide community that champions the rights and inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families, allies, and local associations across Canada. The organization is committed to creating an inclusive Canada where everyone, regardless of intellectual capability, is valued and fully engaged in community life.

US Senators ask Pfizer about donation to Dying with Dignity Canada, Canada's pro-euthanasia group.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalitio

Marco Rubio
On February 28, Marco Rubio (US Senator for Florida) questioned Pfizer's position on assisted suicide and euthanasia considering the fact that Pfizer has received millions of dollars from the US tax payer. Senator Rubio wrote:

A recent report exposed Pfizer’s financial assistance to Dying with Dignity Canada (DWDC), raising questions about its stance on assisted suicide. DWDC has pushed to expand the eligibility for “medically assisted death” to children as young as 12 years old. Pfizer’s support for DWDC raises concerns that it is complicit in prematurely ending lives. 

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and colleagues sent a letter to Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla regarding Pfizer’s donations to DWDC, and the company’s stance on “medically assisted death.” 

  • “The practice of ‘medically assisted death’ contradicts Pfizer’s stated purpose of ‘delivering breakthroughs to change patients’ lives.’
  • “As Pfizer has received millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to develop treatments and conduct medical research, Pfizer must be completely transparent to the federal government, and the American public, about where the company stands on medically assisted death.” 

Joining Rubio were Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Mike Braun (R-IN) and Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Chris Smith (R-NJ).

The letter to Dr Bourla is attached (Link). 

The Senators asked Pfizer to provide specific answers to the following questions: 

  1. Were U.S. taxpayer funds used to make the donation to DWDC? If not, from which source did the donation come from? Why was such a donation made by Pfizer and not its individual shareholders? 
  2. What is Pfizer’s official position on “medically assisted death?”
    1. If Pfizer supports “medically assisted death,” does Pfizer support DWDC’s position that minors have the mental capacity to consent to “medically assisted death?”
      1. If so, has Pfizer disclosed this to shareholders?
    2. If Pfizer does not support “medically assisted death,” will Pfizer publicly commit to cease donations to DWDC and similar groups that support “medically assisted death?”
  3. Does Pfizer currently manufacture and/or sell products that are used (regardless of whether prescribed off-label) for “medically assisted death” in the United States or elsewhere?
    1. If so, does Pfizer support groups like DWDC in order to increase market demand for its products?
  4. Which criteria does Pfizer use to determine to whom they donate? 
  5. How much, in total, has Pfizer donated to “medically assisted death” advocacy groups over the past ten years? 
  6. Will Pfizer continue to donate to DWDC, or other “medically assisted death” advocacy groups, this year? 
  7. Has Pfizer ever utilized its donations to DWDC, or similar groups, as a justification for a positive Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) rating?
    1. If so, does Pfizer consider “medically assisted death” to be a legitimate method for addressing climate change, environmental challenges, or social issues? 

We thank Senator Rubio, and the other Senator's and EPC has asked them to share the response from Pfizer, if Pfizer responds.

Canada's euthanasia lobby is receiving significant money from Canada's federal government and it is clearly not appropriate for Pfizer, that produces end-of-life drugs to be donating to the euthanasia lobby and as stated by the Senator's, it would be even more inappropriate if Pfizer is donating money obtained from the US government to donate to Canada's euthanasia lobby.

Canadians need Medical Assistance in Living not Medical Assistance in Dying

The following is the speech by Dr Paul Saba at the EPC Press Conference on February 27 at the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

Dr Paul Saba speaking at the EPC Press Conference
Starting March 17, 2024, Canadians with mental health problems will be able to access euthanasia. (If the Senate doesn't pass Bill C-62)

In Canada, euthanasia is called “medical assistance in dying.” This must not happen. 

It is not medical assistance in dying that people need, but rather medical assistance in living. 

Around one in five people will have a mental illness in their lifetime. Less than half will seek professional help. 

The recent pandemic has worsened mental health problems especially for marginalized women. young adults, indigenous people, the poor, and people with pre-existing mental disorders. 

More than 50% of people receive mental health care from their family doctor, often without help from other providers. 

Our health and social care system is failing for people with mental health problems.

According to the Angus Reid Institute poll, most Canadians do not support medical assistance in dying (MAID) for mental illnesses and want improved mental health care. 

In Quebec, the average waiting time between consultation with a psychiatrist and treatment is approximately five months. However, the new law requires a three-month waiting period before euthanasia is administered. In other words, the person who wants to see a psychiatrist will be long dead before they get an appointment with the psychiatrist. 

There is always a reason to live, but as caregivers we must find that reason for the person to want to live. 

Nobody wants to die. Instead, people want to escape their emotional distress. We must help them in their distress. 

Most psychiatrists do not support legalizing euthanasia for the mentally ill due to increased risks for certain groups such as women, young adults, the poor and other marginalized groups. 

Additionally, psychiatrists often disagree which patient is irremediable. 

From a legal point of view, the request for medical assistance in dying for the mentally ill does not meet the condition of free and informed consent. The longer a person lives with a mental illness, the less able they are to give free and informed consent. 

As a society we have a responsibility to improve our health care system for people with mental health problems. Rapid access to psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers must be ensured. Access to a wide variety of treatments, including art, music, dance, animals, recreation and other therapies, must be ensured. We must also guarantee free medicine, affordable housing, and food security. 

As a society we must provide the best care to people with mental health problems. We must treat them and not kill them through euthanasia or assisted suicide.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition held a Press Conference on February 27 at the Parliamentary Press Gallery with the Hon Ed Fast (MP), Dr Paul Saba, Lia Milousis, and Alex Schadenberg.

Medical Assistance in Dying is a cunning and deceptive title.

The following email was sent to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dear Sir / Madam,

With reference to the November 23rd article titled: “It’s Time to StopCanada’s Euthanasia Program Dead in Its Tracks.” The title “Medical Assistance In Dying” is indeed a cunning and deceptive title, providing the acronym M.A.I.D.  MAid, when used as a noun, has associations of gentleness and beauty. M.A.I.D. in this context is a indeed a classical example of a euphemism, euphemism being defined as the substitution of a mild and vague expression for a harsh or blunt one. However, let us not overlook the reality that M.A.I.D. also happens to be the acronym for Murder Acting In Disguise. By helpful coincidence this immediately unmasks the true nature of what is actually happening in this heinous practice.

I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Robin Guinness


UK Health and Social Care Select Committee report on assisted suicide and euthanasia released.

The UK Health and Social Care Select Committee report on assisted suicide and euthanasia was released on February 29, 2024.

Dr Gordon Macdonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing, the UK’s leading anti-assisted dying campaign group commented: 

“We welcome this detailed report, which catalogues the dangers of legalising assisted suicide or euthanasia, however given the evidence the MPs heard is disappointing that they have not come down firmly against changing the law.
“The committee recognises about the huge problems in patients accessing good quality palliative care [Conclusions 13-15]. It heard about the struggle many face with getting the right social care and how disabled people, the vulnerable and elderly find it tough to pay their bills or suffer from isolation and feel like they have become a burden. Indeed, one expert told the Committee about the clear evidence of the pressure on people who were seen as no longer ‘a useful member of society” [Par 140] and that this pressure could be nonintentional. This is exactly what we see in places like Oregon, where a majority ending their lives cite burden on their families as a reason for ending their lives or Canada where 1,700 people cited loneliness as a reason for allowing the state to kill them.

“The Committee also heard the about the difficulty to ‘to accurately assess capacity, and safeguard the person, in every case’ [Conclusion 7] and acknowledged that a small number of places have only recently changed their laws to allow state sanctioned killing of the terminally ill, vulnerable and elderly. And that over time deaths from assisted suicide or euthanasia increase [Conclusion 12].”
Dr Macdonald continued: 

Dr Gordon Macdonald
There are many problems with changing the law to legalise state sanctioned killing. As we saw in the Netherlands and Belgium limits on who qualifies for an assisted death have been swept away. No longer is state aided killing with death row drugs limited to those with less than six months to live, but routinely includes disabled people, those with chronic non-terminal conditions and individuals with mental health problems, such as patients with dementia, treatable depression, anorexia even a victim of sexual abuse.

“We were disappointed that the Committee, failed to pick up that those countries which have changed the law, have celebrated savings they have made, or failed to increase spending in palliative care at a similar rate to neighbouring jurisdictions [Conclusion 7] or that changing the law is increasingly linked to an increase in suicides rates in the general population, based on extensive data from the US and Europe.

“The Mathews et al Study, a peer reviewed study from 2020, interviewed palliative care physicians and nurses who practiced in healthcare settings where patients could access Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Southern Ontario. This report concluded the negative impact that MAID has on palliative care in Canada, while studies from the UK’s Anscombe Institute show the growing body of evidence linking increases in suicide to legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia:”
Dr Macdonald concluded: 

“At a time when we have seen how fragile our health care system is, how underfunding puts pressure on services, accessing specific treatments and when the UK’s amazing hospice movement faces a £100 million funding crisis, MPs could have decided to firmly close the door on assisted suicide and euthanasia, and say the current law which protects everyone, regardless of whether they are young or old, able bodied or disabled should remain. They failed.”
For more information please contact Alistair Thompson of Team Britannia PR on: 07970 162225 or by email:

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

People with disabilities need help to live not to die.

This opinion was published by the New Hampshire Union Leader on February 26, 2024

Jules Good
By Jules Good

As New Hampshire considers legalizing assisted suicide, also referred to as medical aid in dying (MAID), I would like to draw attention to the potential impacts this bill could have on disabled and other marginalized residents.

I was 19 years old the second time I attempted to die by suicide. I had just been diagnosed with a chronic but not life-threatening illness, I had rapidly lost about 70% of my hearing in the middle of completing a music degree, and I was struggling with untreated anorexia that was taking a serious toll on my health.

At my intake appointment with a new therapist a few days after my attempt, I explained my situation and the hopelessness I was feeling. She nodded along, then looked me in the eyes and said something I will never forget:

“I would probably kill myself if I were you.”
She wasn’t the first person to say this to me as I started becoming more noticeably disabled, but she was probably the last person I expected to do so. Now that I work in disability policy, nothing surprises me. I hear stories from other disabled people about doctors pressuring them to sign DNRs because they are assumed to have a low quality of life due to their disability. I get messages on social media from people asking me how to advocate for appropriate pain management when their doctors don’t believe the amount of pain they’re in. I pore over story after story of people like Michael Hickson and Tinslee Lewis having treatment withdrawn, withheld, or threatened because of the pervasive view that it’s better to be dead than disabled.

This is why I am critical of policies that are biased toward ending the lives of people with significant disabilities rather than toward preserving them — policies like legally-assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide and the discussion around terminal illness in general has historically been framed as an issue for older adults. Young people aren’t “supposed to” have to think about death, yet adulthood for twenty-somethings like me continues to be shaped by a deadly pandemic, mass shootings, and systemic violence. We’ve heard story after story of perfectly healthy young people who got infected with COVID and are now permanently and significantly disabled.

One of my neighbors, a man in his early 30s, was a victim in a shooting that claimed the life of his 8-year-old son. He sustained permanent physical disabilities from the gunshot wound. Now more than ever, young people need to be invested in equitable treatment for disabled people, not only because we are human beings who deserve care, but also because the odds of younger people becoming disabled or caring for a disabled person are continually rising.

While proponents claim that assisted suicide is only for “terminally ill people who are about to die anyway,” they ignore the fact that many disabilities can become terminal if left untreated. In our for-profit healthcare system, denying or merely delaying care can make an otherwise manageable disability terminal. Medical racism and transphobia increase barriers to care, resulting in BIPOC and trans people reporting postponing or avoiding medical care due to discrimination.

Up to a quarter of people with chronic illnesses have chosen not to fulfill a prescription to manage their condition because of cost. The more vulnerable a person is, the more likely they are to be “steered” toward assisted suicide. It doesn’t take direct coercion to make this happen; a system where death seems like the best or only option for the most marginalized patients is not a system that needs a legal avenue for doctors to help us die.

As my colleague and prominent disability justice activist Anita Cameron has written, disabled people need “supports to live, not tools to die.” A policy of assisted suicide is not an avenue for bodily autonomy or choice; it is yet another tool that can be used to deny care to those who need it most.

Newmarket’s Jules Good is a disability policy professional and activist.

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition says that the expansion of euthanasia to include mental illness should be scrapped.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Marissa Galko, reported on the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) Press Conference for the National Post on February 27

The EPC press conference at the parliamentary press gallery was concerning Bill C-62, a bill which will delay the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness until March 2027. Bill C-62 has passed in parliament but the Senate continues to debate the bill.

EPC called on the goverment to block all expansions of euthanasia in Canada. Galko reports:

Hon Ed Fast speaking.
At a press conference, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition was joined by Conservative MP Ed Fast who said Canada should protect those with mental illness rather allowing them to die, saying it is a “life or death issue.”

“How is it that we, as parliamentarians, have repeatedly supported a strong national suicide prevention program, including a newly established 9-8-8 helpline, when, in the same breath, we advocate for euthanization for those very same individuals?” said Fast.
Galko then reported that the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supports the three-year delay, but would prefer that the government not expand MAID at all.
“The position of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is obviously that we welcome the delay but we actually oppose the concept of euthanasia for mental illness and the concept of even expanding to this,” said Alex Schadenberg, the coalition’s executive director.
Dr Paul Saba
Dr Paul Saba, a family physician from Montreal also spoke at the press conference. Galko reported:
Dr. Paul Saba, a family physician who spoke on behalf of the coalition, said Canada has a responsibility to offer proper remedies for those suffering with mental illness, such as access to psychiatrists and social workers.

Saba said there must be a “wide variety of alternative treatments” available to those who may otherwise resort to MAID “including art, music, dance, recreation, pet and other therapies.” He also said Canada should provide “free medications, affordable housing, and food security” to help with rehabilitation.
“People don’t want to die, they just want to end their psychological distress,” Saba said. “The longer someone lives with a mental illness, the less capable they are able to provide free and informed consent.”

Lia Milousis
Lia Milousis, an Ottawa human rights lawyer who spoke on behalf of the coalition, told her story of how she overcame depression. Galko reported:

“Having reached this point, I find it deeply disturbing to see our society is moving to a place where it would offer suicide assistance to those who really need suicide prevention,” she said.

She said that if MAID had been available to her while she was suffering from her depression, she “would not be here today.” Milousis asked what message this would send to those needing support, suggesting that governments should offer “a message of hope” instead.
Alex Schadenberg
Euthanasia for mental illness alone was legalized when Canada passed Bill C-7 in March 2021. At first the implementation of this part of the statute was delayed until March 2023. Last year the implementation was delayed until March 2024 and Bill C-62, if passed by Canada's Senate, will delay the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness alone until March 2027.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has argued that euthanasia for mental illness alone should not even be considered.